Five things that Manchester United v Liverpool taught us
Manchester United remain in pole position in the Premier League title race following Sunday’s 2-1 win over arch-rivals Liverpool.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are as short as 1/4 to be crowned champions after edging Sunday’s Old Trafford showdown.
Victory was United’s 10th home victory in the Premier League this season and completed a domestic double over Liverpool.
Here we assess five of the main talking points to emerge from the game:
RVP is the bargain buy of the season
Arsenal fans must grimace and think of what could have been every time Robin van Persie scores and turns in a match-winning performance for United like he did against Liverpool.
The Gunners offloaded the Dutchman for a fee rumoured to be £24million in August. Five month on, Van Persie has rattled in 22 goals in 29 appearances for his new club, including strikes at home and away against Liverpool.
Van Persie’s predatory instincts and precision free-kicks again proved too much for the Reds on Sunday as he nonchalantly opened the scoring before setting up his side’s second with a set-piece that caused panic at the back for Liverpool.
United’s new talisman now leads nearest rival Luis Suarez by two goals in the tussle for the Premier League Golden Boot – and looks unstoppable in his quest to win it for successive seasons.
Sturridge should start every game, every week
Daniel Sturridge sparked Liverpool into life at Old Trafford after coming on as a half-time substitute and found himself in the right place, at the right time, to find the net on his Premier League debut for the Reds.
Brendan Rodgers must rue his decision to leave the £12million signing on the bench as he impressed during his 45-minute outing.
Sturridge is an exciting prospect for the Reds and one that Rodgers should deploy in his starting XI for big games.
United still look dodgy defensively
While much of the talk in the aftermath of Sunday’s result has centred around the guff in class between United and Liverpool and Van Persie’s scoring streak, Ferguson will know that his side must improve defensively.
Sturridge certainly posed United’s back four plenty of problems when he was introduced at half-time and the visitors could easily have claimed a share of the spoils.
The truth is that United have looked vulnerable in defence all season, but with the likes of Van Persie plundering the goals at the opposite end of the pitch, they remain a formidable opponent. United are 11/10 to win to nil on Wednesday night in the FA Cup against West Ham.
Suarez looked hopelessly out of sorts on the big stage
Sunday’s game was billed as a shootout between Van Persie and Suarez, but the latter endured a nightmare afternoon.
Suarez has been in decent form of late, scoring six goals in his previous five games before coming up against United.
On the big stage, though, Suarez struggled and his cause wasn’t helped by an underperforming midfield.
Swansea were really shrewd over the Allen deal
Plenty of eyebrows were raised when Liverpool paid Swansea £15million for midfielder Joe Allen back in August.
Whether or not Allen has been value for money is open to much debate, but he definitely did little to win over his doubters at Old Trafford.
The 22-year-old looked lightweight and lacklustre. Rodgers will be hoping it was just an off day.